Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, The Sights, Smells and Sounds

By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

More irony: The sights, smells, sounds of police work

How do cops deal with the irony of police work, the sights, sounds and smells of police work? [This will also apply to all first responders, fire personnel, EMT and some hospital staff.] We all deal with horrific sights in our own manner and I’m going to describe just a few of the ways. I’m not an expert or have any type of psychology training but I am a product of my environment. For thirty-five years I’ve seen things that would make Edgar Allan Poe cringe, and he was crazy!


I’ve seen countless homicides, suicides, traffic accidents and way too many natural deaths with delayed discoveries. The sights are the hardest to forget but more on that later. The easy ones are the sounds. Huh, what sounds? Have you ever heard the crash of a major traffic collision that happens right in front of you? Have you ever heard the thud of a body hitting the ground from a four story jump? Have you ever heard a person take their last gasp of air? The cry of a mother as she holds her dead child (SIDS) will never leave you!


Smells: Have you ever smelled a long decomposing body? It’s an odor that you’ll never forget, or get used to. I was once in a deadly four-story apartment building fire. Some of the tenants jumped from their windows to escape the fire. For years after I associated the smell of smoke with their deaths. Any fireman and some cops can tell you about the reek of burned human flesh.


And last, on a lighter note, the smell of fresh dog shit that your probationer stepped in and then spread on the inside of the floorboard of you police car?  That’s a trip to the police garage to hose out the floorboard. My wife says I’ve lost my sense of smell.

I think of it as evolution.

Come back next Sunday, May 29th for more cop irony from Hal Collier.

Ramblings by Hal

Ramblings, A Cop’s Irony

The story behind the featured photo: A Crowley PD, La officer comforts a child who’s lost his parents at a fair.

By Hal Collier, retired LAPD


I going to start this Ramblings off with a Webster’s definition: “Irony”:  Webster defines irony as “A situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected.”


I really can’t think of a single news article or TV reporter who used the word Ironic when describing how police officers reacted to an incident. Well, that’s because they don’t understand cops or they don’t want to understand us. It’s also possible they or their bosses have an agenda that portrays cops as trigger happy racists.


I’m going to give you a few examples of Irony from a cops point of view. As I have seen before on Facebook and through e-mails, cops, firemen and other emergency responders see things that they might have trouble forgetting. You deal with the sights in your own way. Some of us handle it better that others. Many cops retire early and far too many commit suicide. They just can’t get the images out of their heads. More on this later!


I once handle a months-old  DB (dead body), the coroner remarked that there were 3rd generation maggots on the body. My partner and I were discussing where we were going to eat when we finished this call. Ironic. Here’s one I experienced many a time. I was standing over a sheet covered body waiting for the detectives to finish and watch the sun rise on a new clear day.


Thank goodness I only handled two of these in my career: SIDS death. SIDS is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. After watching a mother hold her dead child, you go home and hug your own kids until they say “Daddy, I can’t breathe!” Ironic


I once handled a domestic violence call at Christmas time. The father came home drunk and smashed the Christmas tree and the child’s toys. The boy was the same age as my son and had the same innocent eyes. I woke father up and poked him in the chest, hoping he would take a swing at me so I could arrest him but only after he had all his stiches sewed up. Didn’t happen.


When I was very new to police work I was given a domestic dispute radio call in the exclusive neighborhood of Outpost Drive. I was only 23 years-old and still had some academy t-shirts. This couple was in their 70’s and they were asking my advice on how to solve their marriage problem. Hell, I was still trying to figure out my own marriage. Ironic


I’ve watched homeless men eat out of a trash can then requested code-7.


Part-2 on May 8th. More Cop Irony